No.12 seed Ons Jabeur never made it past the second round at the BNP Paribas Open before last week, but the Tunisian boosted her chances to qualify for the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara after defeating Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-2, 6-2 to advance to her second WTA 1000 quarterfinal of the season.
With her tour-leading 47th win of the season, Jabeur will rise to No.8 on the WTA Finals Leaderboard on Monday, where she overtakes Naomi Osaka.
Jabeur played a pitch-perfect match under the lights against Kalinskaya, hitting 32 winners to just 15 unforced errors. She was not broken in the match. Jabeur flummoxed the Russian, who had scored two big wins against Sara Sorribes Tormo and Viktorija Golubic to make her first WTA 1000 Round of 16.
Turning point: Leading by a set and a break and serving to consolidate at 6-2, 2-1 in the second set, Jabeur double-faulted at 30-all to give Kalinskaya a chance to get the set back on serve. Kalinskaya pushed a backhand into the net to give Jabeur a temporary reprieve but generated three more break-point chances in the tightest game of the match.
Jabeur did not blink. A big forehand earned an error to save the first, a first serve saved the second and a searing running forehand winner down the line saved the third. Jabeur went on to hold and, after fending off Kalinskaya's surge, Jabeur secured the win after 1 hour and 18 minutes.
Next up for Jabeur: Eyeing a spot in her first WTA 1000 semifinal, Jabeur will face a red-hot Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals.
"Expecting a very tough match," Jabeur said. "Last time we played was in Cincinnati, but now I feel like Anett is a different player, more confident right now. She's playing unbelievable. I watched her when she won the title in Ostrava. I will have to play my game. I will have to change up the rhythm.
"Honestly, I will try to have fun on the court. She's been playing so good. Accepting every winner she's going to put on the court. She's an unbelievable player and a friend on tour. Such a great friend to have her. It's going to be a great battle. Whatever is going to happen, I'm going to do my best. If I win or if she wins, I'll be really happy for her."
Anett Kontaveit extends her winning streak to 9 matches - 18 consecutive sets - defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 60 62 to advance to the #BNPPO21 quarterfinals.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 13, 2021
Faces either Jabeur or Kalinskaya for a spot in her 1st WTA 1000 SF since 2019 Miami. pic.twitter.com/yxZJhRXge3
Kontaveit wins 18th consecutive set to seal quarterfinal spot
No.18 seed Anett Kontaveit continued her winning form, defeating lucky loser Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-0, 6-2 in 65 minutes to advance to her first Indian Wells quarterfinal. The win extended Kontaveit's winning streak to nine consecutive matches in which she has not lost a set during that span.
Kontaveit came into the fourth round off a strong performance to oust defending champion Bianca Andreescu in the third round. Haddad Maia, who found herself in the main draw as a lucky loser, tallied the biggest win of her career in the third round when she defeated top-seeded Karolina Pliskova.
But the No.135 Brazilian had no answers for Kontaveit in their first meeting on the pro tour. Kontaveit lost just eight points on her serve for the match, while dominating the points from the baseline top break Haddad Maia five times.
"I'm feeling good," Kontaveit said. "I've been playing good tennis. Have a few wins under my belt. I'm feeling really good about it. It's going to be a tough match for sure. Ons has been playing really well.
"I'm feeling really good about my game so I'm ready for a battle and ready for whatever comes."
Kerber makes 5th Indian Wells quarterfinal with win versus Tomljanovic
No.10 seed Angelique Kerber advanced to her third straight BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-1 win in the fourth round over Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic. A finalist in 2019, the German Kerber will face No.21 seed Paula Badosa for a spot in the semifinals.
Kerber came into her third meeting with Tomljanovic full of confidence after two tough three-set wins against Katerina Siniakova and Daria Kasatkina. The unseeded Tomljanovic had done well to pave her own way through the draw, earning her first Top 10 win of the season, over No.5 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, and ousting No.26 seed Tamara Zidansek.
Kerber raced out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set before Tomljanovic was able to take advantage of the former No.1's misfiring groundstrokes to close the gap to 5-4. It took Kerber five set points to finally close out the opener, finally clinching it by breaking down the Australian's forehand to earn a buried shot into the net.
With the set in hand, Kerber powered through the second set without losing serve and began to inject more offensive firepower into her forehand. She finished with 21 winners and 21 unforced errors, holding Tomljanovic to 12 winners and extracting 27 unforced errors.
"It was a tough match actually," Kerber said. "I played well in the first set. She came back. It was really a close first set at the end. The second set was as well really tough. I mean, even the score was a little bit not like really close, but every single game was a tough battle. I was just trying to be aggressive, take my chances. I'm happy to be through and be in the next round here."